Tamiflu is a popular drug that helps in fighting against influenza or flu and has also been helpful for patients that suffered from swine flu. There is always a risk of H1N1 or influenza A virus to mutate and become resistant to Tamiflu. Swine flu is still a concern around the world in the mist of the shortage of the H1N1 vaccine. UK has reported three patients that have swine flu with the virus resistant to Tamiflu. Let us take a look at the situation:
Where and how many patients were detected with Tamiflu resistant H1N1 virus?
University Hospital of Wales, Cardiff informed that three out of five patients that were infected with swine flu have shown Tamiflu resistance. They are believed to be first case of person-to-person transmission of a Tamiflu-resistant strain in the world. Two of the University Hospital Wales patients have recovered and have been discharged from hospital. Whereas one is in critical care and two are being treated on the ward.
Professor Peter Openshaw, a respiratory physician at Imperial College London, said of the spread: “It’s not surprising that this has happened, indeed it has always been anticipated”.
Have we seen it before and why is it serious issue?
There have been several reports around the globe on people developing resistance to Tamiflu while these patients were on the drug. But the key is the Tamiflu resistant strain was not passed to other people from these affected patients. One possible case of person to person transfer of Tamiflu resistant H1N1 virus was reported in the US, but was never confirmed. Health officials are looking into the reason for the spread of Tamiflu resistant strain among the three patients.
It can not be stressed enough that any spread...
of this Tamiflu resistant strain would be of grave concern. H1N1 strain was first reported in April and virologist had expected the new resistant strains to emerge.
Is Tamiflu still a viable option to treat swine flu?
Dr Tony Jewell, Chief Medical Officer for Wales, said “We know that people with suppressed immune systems are more susceptible to the swine flu virus, which is why they are a priority group under the first phase of the vaccination program in Wales which is progressing at pace.” He further said that stringent processes were in place to monitor antiviral resistant in the UK so that such resistance can be spotted early, causes investigated and cases managed. Also he mentioned that “Treatment with Tamiflu is still appropriate for swine flu and people should continue to take Tamiflu when they are prescribed it.
Although, it was not an un-expected that Tamiflu resistant strain was seen in some patients, but still it is concerning as it spread from one person to another. I think the problem becomes more concerning due to shortage of the swine flu vaccine. Dr Ronald Cutler, deputy director of biomedical science at Queen Mary, University of London, said: “Shortening the time taken to produce new vaccines and improving the methods to control and treat the disease while vaccines are being made would be a way forward”. The health officials stressed there was no risk to anyone else. So, follow basic flu hygiene and keep yourself away from the flu.